Flint, Mich., is not the only place in the U.S. facing a devastating, preventable public health disaster. In January 2018, water that had been flowing into the Salton Sea will be diverted from the Imperial Valley and sent to urban water districts. As a result, the Salton Sea will shrink rapidly, leaving behind vast areas of dry lake bed. These exposed beaches will be a source of highly toxic, wind-blown dust affecting the health of hundreds of thousands of Californians living in the Coachella and Imperial valleys.
Archive for date: October 16th, 2016
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Over the past 100 years, this arid region of Central Washington has undergone a stunning transformation. Engineers and farmers have captured the annual mountain snowmelt and used it to change the sagebrush steppe into an agricultural Eden of tree fruits, mint, hay, and corn. Rows of green crops adorn a once-parched landscape. Reservoirs funnel water to farms and turn massive turbines that spirit electricity to far-off coastal cities. And Central Washington has become an apple basket for the world. Charlie de la Chapelle has lived the story of this water-borne agrarian bounty.
The big weekend storm means an end to the official fire season and perhaps the start of long-term healing to California’s drought-devastated pine forests. There are twists to both stories. Over the weekend near Tahoe, the snow line was roughly 8,500 feet, well above 7,056-foot Donner Pass on Interstate 80, and flash-flood watches were posted early Sunday for creeks and below burn areas in the Tahoe region.After the series of storms passes, the high snow level means hikers and shoulder-season campers still will have access to vast areas of national forest, including right up to the Sierra crest at Tahoe.
We’re facing a crisis that’s been building for a long time. Even within in the U.S., problems abound. Here in Baltimore, we’ve been dealing with the consequences for over a decade! But fear not! There is a solution. All you have to do is shut down your pipes. You’ll have to drink, cook, and bathe with bottled water. And as an extra precaution, you’ll need to rip up your yard and replace it with gravel. For the good of the world, you understand.
Twenty-seven years ago, on Oct. 17, 1989, I was a City Council member going about my normal business in Santa Cruz. I returned home in time for game three of the Giants v A’s World Series. As I settled in, the TV jumped at me. A 6.9 earthquake centered about ten miles away was shaking the region. I ran out through the kitchen as dishes pitched out of the cupboards. Outside I couldn’t take my eyes off a neighbor’s palm tree as it waved almost to the ground. Eventually, I made my way to City Hall at the edge of our decimated downtown.
In 2008, when Brice Jones decided to stop irrigating his grapevines, California was in the middle of a drought. Jones, however, wasn’t thinking about water conservation. He was thinking about making California pinot noir that would rival French burgundy.Jones had been in the winemaking business in California for decades and like most wine makers in the state, had never questioned the need to add extra water to his vineyards to compensate for the lack of summer rain.
After serving for the last two years as the vice chair of the Water Authority’s board of directors, I am eagerly anticipating the next two years as chair after the board elected me to that position on Sept. 22. The Water Authority has a history of exemplary board leadership stretching back decades, and outgoing chair Mark Weston has upheld that tradition in every sense.